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Devastated Houston reels as Storm Harvey hits Louisiana

HOUSTON Rescuers in Texas were racing against time yesterday to find survivors of Harvey's wrath and take them to safety, with Houston declaring a night-time curfew to head off looting as rains persisted and floodwaters continued to rise.

After the monster storm slammed onshore as a Category 4 hurricane last week, emergency teams were still struggling to reach stranded people in a massive round-the-clock rescue operation.

The midnight to 5am curfew went into effect on Tuesday to aid search efforts and thwart looting.

At least one bridge had crumbled, one levee had been breached and dams were at risk in the Lone Star State, where Harvey, now a tropical storm, has so far driven more than 8,000 people into emergency shelters.

With neighbouring Louisiana squarely in its path, Harvey made landfall again yesterday. Residents of low-lying New Orleans - which bore the brunt of Katrina's devastation in 2005 - are bracing for up to 25cm of rain.

Media reports indicated that the Texas death toll could have risen to 30.

A Houston police officer was confirmed the latest victim after the body of Mr Steve Perez, who went missing after reporting for duty on Sunday, was recovered by divers two days later.

Everywhere, the figures from the storm are staggering. The National Weather Service said over six million Texans have been impacted by 75cm or more of rain since Friday.

Residents living around a chemical plant were evacuated over fears that the chemicals at the facility, which produces organic peroxide, might react or cause an explosion.

The Nasa space flight centre in Houston said it was closing until Monday.

The National Weather Service tweeted that Harvey appears to have broken a US record for most rain from a single tropical cyclone, with nearly 132cm recorded in the town of Cedar Bayou.

"Recovery is a slow process," said Mr Brock Long of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "We've got a long way to go." - AFP

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